The Impact of Anxiety Disorders on the Family

Read about the family dysfunction caused by anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are also isolating for members of the victim's family. Read about the family dysfunction caused by anxiety disorders.Regardless of who actually has the anxiety disorder, it is a condition that affects the lifestyle of everybody in the family - whether husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother...

While anxiety disorders, by their very nature, isolate those who suffer from them, they are also isolating for members of the victim's family. It is almost impossible to effectively explain the last minute cancellations of attendance at social events, meetings and other pre-arranged appointments. It is hard to find the right words to excuse what appears to be lack of interest or plain bad manners. And how can you expect people to understand why your brother, wife, mother or son is never seen outside the house - does he/she really exist? - to your neighbors who think you are such a strange family? You cannot. And the misinterpretations and false perceptions of you and your family continually compound the problem.

The resulting family dysfunction caused by anxiety disorders often results in the problem becoming further complicated by the psychological and physical reactions of other family members - the husband who drifts in and out of affairs because his social phobic wife is unable to participate in the social areas of his business life, the teenager who rebels against the restrictive family life imposed by his father's fear of having a panic attack, and ends up involved in drugs and petty crime, the mother who finally suffers a mental breakdown, after years of coping with the manipulations of her anxiety-disordered child...

This is why it is so important for the media to feature programs and articles which communicate the symptoms, effects and treatment of anxiety disorders. At a lesser level, however, it is equally important for the people who are directly affected - whether as sufferers of anxiety disorders or as family members - to attempt to communicate the facts within their individual circles of friends and acquaintances. Even seemingly insignificant things, such as getting a copies of this - or a similar - newsletter to the people who are important in your life or drawing their attention to television programs on the subject, can become important factors in raising awareness and creating understanding.

We are a lot more fortunate than we were ten - even five - years ago. Anxiety disorders are recognized by the health profession today. We no longer have to try to explain about something that is not officially an illness. The challenge now is to communicate the problem to the many people who are not, themselves, directly affected but who do directly or indirectly affect the lives of the people upon whom anxiety disorders impact every day.

Source: Lifeline Anxiety Disorder Newsletter

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, February 18). The Impact of Anxiety Disorders on the Family, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: July 3, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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